Bush, L. Russ. The Advancement Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age.Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2003.
In his book The Advancement, L. Russ Bush ironically labeled modern day society or the naturalistic postmodern worldview as “the Advancement.” The term advancement is satirically used by Bush and describes a double edge sword interpretation of reality. Advancement thinking is a worldview void of God, baseless, and dangerously lacking meaning. Combine lack of life purpose with rapid communication and technology, and one has conjured up a lethal worldview cocktail. Bush’s overall sense of his book logically argues how advancement thinking detaches itself from God, and that denial of God is the ultimate Achilles heel of advancement thinking. Just as a double-edged sword, advancement thinking unknowingly harms itself more than it serves the greater good of the world. Upon evaluation of Bush’s book, one can reasonably ascertain that advancement thinking has shallow roots, or rather, no roots with truth and God. The dwarfed roots of advancement thinking handicap its’ ability to weather any logical or reasonable worldview other than its’ own subjective view, and when challenged, those with advancement thinking often resort to name calling and violence.
Summary of the Book
The modern worldview is full of good, but there are also within it some poisons—the inevitability of moral decay, and the absence of meaning (17). Bush clearly illustrates in his book, that there are two very different ways to view the world. One way, the Advancement worldview, is to see the Darwin picture of the world as a struggle of survival of the fittest, and evolution and mutation. The bleak Darwin theory views humanity as a transmutation of species that are moving towards spiritual progress. The Christian worldview has a very different outlook as it perceives the universe as stable and humans as divinely created species, created uniquely by God. The Christian worldview refutes survival of the fittest with the survival of the faithful and teaches that people are fallen creatures from original sin and spiritual failure. The Christian worldview is full of hope with survival contingent on divine intervention through Jesus (15). The Advancement worldview is a Godless world as described by Bush, and a world void of God lacking truth, meaning, and purpose.
In his book, Bush goes into great depth on modern worldviews and explains the history of science, philosophy of science, and the rise of Advancement towards a more materialistic and uniform explanation of existence and matter rather than the divine origin of the universe. Many scholars have recognized that the scientific revolution which developed in the sixteenth century rested on a Christian foundation (19). There is not a clash between Christianity and science as many people believe today, Bush explains that it is in the Christian communities that science, as we know it today, was birthed and flourished. What is being seen now in the Advancement is the loss of humanness and a mechanical view of life, with the survival of the fittest as the theory of evolution being presented as fact to postmodern people for the origin of life as we know it. What at first has been strictly a theory of the origin of species had now become a philosophical basis for all of life (30). Humans are no longer human (35). The view of humanity is meaningless and purposeless and thus has darkened significantly. Bush clearly explains how, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the culminating events of the past led to the worldview we are in today.
One crucial element of modern thought, often overlooked, is the shift of epistemology that came with and supported the modern worldview (37). Knowledge and truth are examined in Bush’s book, and it is clear that humanity shifted from a world of absolute truths based on God, to a Godless and subjective, relative world, of no truths. We base science on what we observe with our senses, but Bush finds the absurd notion, of “the Advancement,” as they believe our senses are not absolute, but subjective. This so-called scientific procedure is a legitimate recognition of our finite human limitations (47). Allow that notion to sink in; Bush explains how the modern theory of knowledge only believes the “facts,” of science, and refutes everything else when in reality science itself is interpreted through our subjective human limitations.
There is a significant loss of truth in the modern, naturalistic worldview, and with this loss of truth, comes a loss of freedom. Truth as a permanent, unchanging, correct relationship between thought and reality no longer existed (50). Now science is seeing subatomic particles as the creator of all things and forgetting the subjectivity of science. People seem to think they can transcend the limitations of being human. Can we trust our minds to give us the truth of reality, if our minds are only a product of reality, even if they are a product achieved from a transcendent array of potential options? The answer is no (61).
Bush lastly eludes to evidence or results of the modern world, “one cannot ignore the implications of the rise of modern art and hard rock music. Loss of meaning, random abstraction, dissonance, and pagan eroticism are not signs of advancement even upon advancement assumptions (88).” Meaningless art and music filled with rage point to a world void of God, and beg us to ask, is a world without God as the focal point advancing? Bush concludes that “without God as a control center, everything floats on a sea of relativity (103).” In the final pages of his book, Bush brings it back to Jesus, and the divine objective truth of the Bible. Bush expressed that we need not go back to the olden days, but it sure would be true advancement to bring God back as the focal point of society today.
In the “Advancement,” traditions are set aside; cultural roots are forgotten and ignored (5). Bush argues that we live in a world with scientific advancements, technology, combined into a lethal cocktail of a dominating naturalistic worldview void of God. On Easter of 2019, nearly 300 Christians were murdered in Sri Lanka during masses. Political officials and media outlets in the US called these murder victims, “Easter worshippers.” As evident in the term “Easter Worshippers,” advancement thinking is so far detached from the worldview containing Jesus, that politicians could not even bring themselves to use the term, Christian. After reading Bush’s book, one is not be surprised that the present-day media would avoid the word Christian, Bush gave the history on how and why the world is so Godless in the Advancement thinking as the Advancement view of the world denies the Christian biblical worldview.
We Christians living through the era of the Advancement no longer have the luxury of a majority consensus in Western society (5). Bush had a “slam dunk,” in his assessment of a world void of God lacking meaning and purpose. It appears today that anything Christian or God rooted is quickly dismissed or shunned by secular institutions like the government in the previously mentioned example of “Easter worshippers,” however; when it comes to saving sea turtles, that news is in the main headlines. What happened to the value and meaning in human life? Scientists or politicians without God’s Word to guide them may be deceived into thinking that an unborn child is not a child or that disease is an evolutionary process related to natural selection (103). Bush makes it objectively clear to his audience, why God is needed in our worldview for meaning, and that the Biblical solution is the only livable option that brings satisfaction in life. Bush’s message is sadly evident today, as we witness sea turtle eggs as more protected by the government in New York than unborn human babies in the womb of their mother.
Another strength Bush pointed out was the evidence of decline with art and music as evidenced with angry, heavy metal music, and modern art. One can ponder how a blank canvas of all white can be considered art? How is a blank canvas sold for millions, and on display in museums? By today’s subjective and relative worldview standards, a blank canvas is “modern art.” The days of Mozart and Beethoven are a far cry from most of the uninspiring music and art of the Advancement today. The art and music argument given by Bush is a clear example of where the Advancement worldview, perhaps, to use Darwin’s terminology, is not evolving as fit for survival.
A weakness of Bush’s book is about how the Christian worldview can argue with the new age spiritual movement of, “love.” Bush certainly explains the secular use of the word love is a self-serving, unbiblical, impatient love (94), however for a Christian to argue their worldview as the only objective way, the right way, and the truth, they risk being labeled and called a bigot from the secular society of advancement thinkings’ perspective. “How dare that Christian tell me my spiritual belief of love is impatient and unbiblical, it works for me,” would be a typical response from someone who identifies with the subjective Advancement worldview.
The Advancement way of spirituality is all-inclusive, and believes all paths lead to the same God; even the pope is singing the message of unity and oneness of all religions as children of the same God. So, for a Christian to argue against the concept of “one love,” and “all religions are different expressions of the same truth of God which is love,” is not too well explained in Bush’s book. Bush addresses science, philosophy, and the history of how the advancement worldview came to be, but he glosses over the new age “love,” movement of the Advancement worldview with just a sentence or two which those who hold that view would call offensive, and judgmental.
Being a Christian, in a world full of Advancement thinking is tricky when proposing the objective and spiritual truth of Jesus. For the new age person using the buzzword of love, to have a Christian label their love as impatient and unbiblical can easily be interpreted as a closeminded and judgmental statement. The stereotype that shadows Christians in the Advancement worldview is that of closed-minded bigotry; this stereotype of Christians has led many people to more new-age “Advancement,” spiritual life where people choose their own beliefs from a buffet of options that work for one’s relative needs. Of course, subjective new age religious doctrine lack roots and is faddish as evidenced by its subjective incoherent fruits. However, to explain how Advancement thinking with regards to love and spirituality is philosophically and morally incoherent to the general public can prove a difficult task as most people are trained in Advancement theory as their dominant worldview whether they are aware of it or not. To remedy this, Christian’s must tread lovingly to educate and inform the well-meaning Advancement thinking spiritual new ager claiming “love,” as their religion, of the objective truth and love of Jesus, and what truth and a worldview are. In the second edition of Bush’s book, addressing the component of religion and spirituality in the Advancement era would complete his argument of the Biblical worldview as the only solution to modern life.
Bush’s book and his theory on the Advancement are a significant contribution in the field of apologetics. Bush traces the history of science and philosophy to explain why we are in the place we are in the postmodern world. Bush’s message is loud and clear, a world void of God is meaningless and lethal for humanity; we must inject God back into all areas of life; humans are only satisfied through God. Without the objective truth of God, humans drift aimlessly in a sea of relativity, not knowing truth from falsehood, and lacking meaning for existence. Bush illustrated the fruits of advancement thinking with hard-rock music, modern-art, and politico-social topics like abortion, these “advancements,” are a far cry from real advancement. While Bush could have gone more in-depth on advancement thinking’s religion of new age spirituality, his book is a fantastic resource for those wanting to distinguish the truth of the Christian worldview, and why a biblical answer is the only option for humanity in our current state of subjectivity and meaninglessness.